This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 29, 2011 7:11 PM. The previous post in this blog was Government far too cushy with nukes. The next post in this blog is It's Memorial Day. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Hang On Sloopy" -- the lost verse

You learn something new every day. This afternoon we were listening to Radio Bojack on last.fm while we were puttering around the house doing chores and hobby stuff. After a while, the McCoys' chestnut "Hang On Sloopy" came on -- a bittersweet tune for us. We once were given a big moment at a jam session with real musicians, but when asked to sing that one, we found out the hard way how key-sensitive a tune it was for our vocal range. If only we had another crack at it...

Anyway, today as the recording moved along, we were stunned to hear a second verse that had been edited out of the single version that played on our radio in the fall of 1965 and on our stereos and music gadgets ever since. We stopped what we were doing and turned it up to hear Rick Derringer croon:

Sloopy wears a red dress, yeah, as old as the hills.
But when Sloopy wears that red dress, yeah,
You know it gives me the chills, oh, oh.
Sloopy when I see you walkin', walkin' down the street,
I say, "Don't worry, Sloopy, girl, you belong to me."
And so I sing out...
Then there was another chorus, and then the guitar solo and right back to the familiar "Come on, come on" bit that works its way up to the glorious crescendo toward the end. But wow, a verse about a red dress. Who knew?

Comments (9)

There seems to be two versions of the song on http://grooveshark.com

One is about 3:00 minutes. The one with the second verse is about 3:50 minutes long.

When I searched Grooveshark for Hang on Sloopy McCoys, the longer version was the first one that appeared on the list.

Not to brag but I once won a Packy the Elephant Birthday T-shirt off a radio station here in Portland for correctly knowing that this song is written by Rick Derringer of "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" fame. It helped that I had been in a band that played both "Hang On Sloopy" and the aforementioned "Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo".

None of this is to deflect from learning of this third verse. This is like finding a precious gem from a parallel universe. To think lead singers could have mangled a whole different set of lyrics.

For me, the words are vital, but I once played with a lead singer who never even thought about learning lyrics and then they would slowly evolve to something quite strange. I would record our shows just to mine the gold.

Remember the song, "Ain't Got You"? One night I reviewed the tape and during the bridge he distinctly sang, "I've got cattle that will free your soul." Religious cattle. All sung with complete emotion. Rock and roll!

In 1965, most singles (45's) were three minutes or shorter. That's the way the radio stations and jukebox operators preferred it. Superstars like the Beatles and the Stones could go longer ("Ticket to Ride" and "Satisfaction" both ran over three), but the McCoys? Groups like that got edited.

"Yeah, somebody say keep on rockin'?"

When I think of rock and roll back along the generational divide, there was always the feeling of disapproving parents and teenage outcasts. So how refreshing is it that this teenage rocker is willing to date Sloopy despite society's disapproval of her dad? For the guys in my band, it was a nice twist from the standard: Her father really hating you.

"Sloopy I don't care what your daddy do.
'Cause you know Sloopy, girl, I'm in love with you.

I didn't know there was an actual girl nicknamed Sloopy but of course there was. It's like Ritchie Valens, "Oh Donna". It was so unusual to hear the real Donna being interviewed years later, and she was STILL hot. That one was more of the disapproving dad routine.

Another great song that covers this is "Uptight" by Stevie Wonder:

"I'm a poorman's son from across the railroad tracks
The only shirt I own is hangin' on my back
But I'm the envy of every single guy
Since I'm the apple of my girl's eye."

Stevie sings, "No one is better than I" and clearly, the McCoys feel that no one is better than Sloopy.

You wonder whether they would have had more guts than Janis Ian, who as "Society's Child" gave up.

You know another one that hits a beautiful note? "Black Pearl" by Sonny Charles & the Checkmates.

Jack - come out to this year's BBQ & Jam and we'll give you another shot at Sloopy . . .

Both Donna and Peggy Sue are in the interview that Bill McD mentioned:


Rick Derringer has also recorded as a solo blues artist for Blues Bureau Records. Despite his background with the McCoys and early solo career, they are very straightforward blues albums, including both standards and original material. This not really as surprising as it might sound. Derringer and most of the McCoys were Johnny Winter's first backup band. Derringer also produced Winters for awhile. Another Blues Bureau solo artist is Leslie West, the former Mountain frontman. His stuff is also pretty straightforward blues, with more guitar feedback, though. Both of their albums are worth checking out. Very cheap on Amazon.

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